Seven detained over east China chemical spill

Chinese health officers check water content after a chemical spill. File photo
Chinese health officers check water content after a chemical spill. File photo
Image: AFP PHOTO

Seven people have been detained over the spilling of tonnes of toxic chemicals into seas off eastern China's Fujian province that left 52 ill, local authorities said.

The incident happened in the early hours of November 4 when a tube transferring the chemicals from a wharf to a tanker broke, spilling 6.9 tonnes of C9 aromatics into the sea.

C9 is typically used to produce adhesives, printing ink and paint, and is toxic.

Three employees of the Fujian Donggang Petrochemical Company, which operates the wharf, and four crew members of the tanker were detained, the Quangang district government said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

It added that 6,615 fishing rafts in surrounding waters had to be cleaned.

The local environment bureau has been posting near-daily updates of chemical levels in the area, which they say are normal, after locals reported a strong smell lingering for days and fishermen complained of fish die-offs.

Last week, residents near the coast who had come into contact with the C9 reported dizziness, nausea, and breathing difficulties.

As of Wednesday afternoon, two remained in hospital for observation.

The local government faced accusations it had attempted to cover-up or play down the incident.

Posts about of the spill were rapidly taken down from China's Twitter-like Weibo social media platform, while searches of the term "Quangang carbon leak" were blocked.

"The seven poor scapegoats, what about those on top who are in charge? Ageing and badly maintained facilities are the problem of the lowest workers?" one user wrote. 

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